Royals’ Rios flourishing in ALCS return to Toronto – despite fans’ ire
With the ALCS having shifted back to the Rogers Centre this week for Games 3, 4 and 5 between the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays, K.C. outfielder Alex Rios was given the opportunity to return to a facility he once called home.
However, as ESPN’s Doug Padilla wrote, Blue Jays fans did direct some ‘venom’ in Rios’ direction this week. For context’s sake, here’s what happened: After coming up through the Blue Jays’ organization and making his MLB debut in 2004, Rios hit well enough to earn a big seven-year extension in 2008. Just one year into the deal, the Jays let him leave for the Chicago White Sox on a waiver claim as the club apparently didn’t want to keep paying him at that level for the type of production he was providing.
It’s within that context that Rios made his return to Toronto this week and did quite well: After going 0-4 in Game 3, he rebounded with a three-hit night in Game 4 (clubbing a home run, too) in the Royals’ 14-2 win.
Despite the reception given to him by Toronto fans, Rios told Padilla he wasn’t really bothered by it:
“You know what? It doesn’t make any difference. I think this is a team that we have to go out and beat. … I played here, I have great memories from when I was here. But it’s just another team that we have to go out and beat. So that’s what we’re focusing on.”
Padilla noted that Rios saw the fans’ salty reception as more of a challenge than a problem, which is probably a good way to look at it from his perspective:
“We're used to that kind of noise. We got pretty good crowds at home, and we're used to that kind of noise. And the louder it gets at the end, it's just noise. You can't really tell what they're saying or what they're trying to say. But we're used to that kind of ambiance.”
With (at least) one more game remaining in this series, Rios could very well step up on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium and make his presence felt once again.